If a bike helmet does not fit your child, it will offer little to no protection, so make sure you take the time to get it right. Jill Lucas-Drakeford, a Carilion Clinic community health educator and the coordinator for Safe Kids Southwest Virginia, shares her best tips on getting just the right fit:
SIZE - Measure your child’s head to find the right size. Have your child try on several helmets until one feels right. Put the helmet level on his head and adjust the sizing pads or fit ring until the helmet is snug.
POSITION - The helmet should sit level on your child’s head and low on his forehead. You should only be able to put two fingers between your child’s eyebrows and the top of the helmet. Your child should also be able to look up and see the helmet.
SIDE STRAPS - The side strap should make a Y underneath the ear for a secure fit. Be sure to lock the slider in place.
BUCKLES - Center the left buckle under the chin. On most helmets, the straps can be pulled from the back of the helmet to lengthen or shorten the chin straps.
CHIN STRAPS - Buckle the chin strap and tighten it until it is snug. You should not be able to fit more than one or two fingers under the strap. When the helmet is buckled, your child should able to open and close his mouth comfortably. When your child opens his mouth very wide, the helmet should pull down on his head. If not, tighten the chin strap.
In addition, your child’s helmet should meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s standards. Look for the certification label inside the helmet.
"Make the shopping trip a family affair and let your kids help pick out a helmet they like," said Lucas-Drakeford. "If they like it, they are more likely to wear it every time."